Tales of the goings on at Hollyford Pottery, near the tiny village of Stockleigh English in Devon, England
Friday, 26 February 2010
I've been suffering a bit during the last couple of days with a bad back - I pulled it on Wednesday when I was dragging wood out of the pile. It meant that my plans to make bigger pots over the past couple of days have been a bit thwarted. Thankfully by this afternoon, it had eased up - lots of kneading big lumps of clay sorted it out, so I managed to get a couple of large baluster jugs made - I'll take some pictures of them tomorrow once I've got the handles on. I made a big 20lb cider jar too, but didn't like it, so I flattened it and re kneaded it before I came home this evening - try again tomorrow.
The picture above shows a few of the pots I have in the workshop, drying out ready for bisc firing.
Many thanks to Kim Morgan for sending me this invitation all the way from New Zealand. Blogger Paul wrote in his post today about the magic of the blog thing and how it connects so many of us across the globe. It makes everything real when something like this comes through the post. Thank you Kim, who knows, one day I may venture beyond the end of my lane and drop in on you and Peter in New Zealand. Good luck with the show, keep in touch.
This is Jess slipping some sweet bowls yesterday. She came back this evening to finish them off.
Different Dave came by this morning - it was good to see him. He's coming back after the firing in a couple of weeks, to help me rebuild the woodshed, so we hatched a plan over a cup of tea and worked out how best to do it with the salvaged materials that I've been stockpiling for the job.
Here's a crazy pot awaiting bisc firing.
This was the view from my workshop window this evening - how wonderful to see the sunshine, there was a real feeling of Spring in the air for a while. My first daffodil has burst its bud and will be in full bloom by the start of next week - I'm very easily excited by such things.
Ah, another picture of those jars. The colours of the slips are great at this stage.
Early start tomorrow. The kilnshed roof has a really bad leak so Marky Mark and I are going to repair it in the morning. We're going to take loads of rubbish to the tip too. It's bound to rain, of course!
Happy weekend all
Wednesday, 24 February 2010
Dry wood is very good.
Sawn and stacked and in the dry - hurrah, I was worrying about the fact I hadn't done that job yet whilst lying awake at 2.30 this morning after the stupid cats had woken me up.
This lady was the tightest of fits in the biscuit kiln, but thankfully she did fit, albeit in a slightly dodgy manner - phew, that was a bit stressful!
Bath, bed, bye for now :-)
Bowly, dishy, platey things
How did this leafy thing get into my head? - Ah, Dorset Cereals - well it is a harvest jug so it's appropriate I suppose
Something a little simpler on this jug - fewer marks, but bolder. The slips won't have such extreme contrast to them once they're fired, it will all mellow down somewhat.
3lb jars. I always love to see a whole load of jars in rows - a lot of work in these - essentially two pots with the jar and the lid. There's something very satisfying about making them. I decorated some of these tonight, the rest I'll do in the morning.
I reckon I have about half a kiln load now, so lots still to make - another long day tomorrow - I'm loving it at the moment though, so the graft isn't a burden.
Monday, 22 February 2010
Thank you to everybody who has voted for me in the Little Blog Awards - it's been fun watching progress over the weekend. It's going well so far, just a week to go!
I've been making jars and lids today - here they are before they're turned....
...and here's one I 'helped along' with the gas burner so that I could turn it back and throw the knob on. I'll do the rest in the morning.
Bowls and mugs tomorrow - a day of small stuff.
Goodnight all and thanks
Saturday, 20 February 2010
Vote for me!
Cheers Paul for sending it to me.
Friday, 19 February 2010
Just got in after an evening of noisy rocking with three quarters of the Love Daddies - the first time in months. It was good to be doing it again, although I've forgotten how to play a lot of the songs in a relatively short time - old age or just a full head I guess - or both probably.
I've been making these big jugs during the last couple of days. They vary in weight and size and in form and proportion. I feel a whole lot happier for getting those done - they'll fill up a fair bit of the kiln chamber, so now I'm well on the way. That takes the pressure off my brain - I'm starting to enjoy my potting again after a bit of a struggle in recent times. I must make something other than jugs next week though.
Jess came yesterday and made some sweet little bowls while Luke and I were over in the woods. I've given her my old kickwheel and her dad came and took it away in his quad bike trailer. It was nice to see it go off to it's new home. I've had that wheel for years - (Sid Tustin once sat on that wheel and kicked it!) - but now I have the big kickwheel from Wenford so I don't need it any more. I know Jess will put it to good use - her pots are coming along really nicely.
Well here's a video blog. It feels a bit odd doing it this way, but It's nice to talk to you all. I surely need to get that old grey beard off when the weather warms up!
Have a great weekend. Cheers
Digging clay with my boy Luke
Thursday, 18 February 2010
Late night Wednesday
Got all the 3lb jugs handled today. I meant to measure them for Anna, I'll do that tomorrow Anna.
Mark Mark came over for our regular late night Wednesday. Cookie joined us later. Mark and I did a load more shiftng and organizing. The workshop's really starting to get a lot more order in it now - I'll take you on a video tour when it's a bit more sorted. Mark and Cookie are both working on some tiles. I too have tiles to make - I'll get on to those soon, once I've got lots of pots made and drying. I was lucky enough to be able to purchase Michael Cardew's tile and brick moulds from Wenford Bridge.
I got the first of the six big harvest jugs made this evening - one down, five to go. These will help fill the kiln up. I bought a load of fantastic big kiln shelves yesterday that'll make firing larger pots, much easier.
Well that's all for now
Monday, 15 February 2010
In fact, I took this one yesterday evening as the sun set - pretty.
Today I made a dozen of these small 3lb fat jugs. It feels like I'm clicking back into the rhythm of making again now, there are lots of pots starting to build up on the shelves and my anxiety is subsiding. I still only have about a quarter of a kiln full, but there's still time and a lot of big pots to make too. I'd planned on doing those today, but the clay was just too soft, so I've blended and kneaded a load up and left it unwrapped on the bench to toughen, ready for use on Wednesday.
These are some baluster jugs I've been working on - I'll be doing a post all about about them later in the week.
Tomorrow I'm off to lovely Exmoor to pick up some lovely kiln shelves that I've bought. After that, I'm going to call by and visit lovely Blogger Paul. Watch this space.
Cheers for now
Thursday, 11 February 2010
My second waffling video blog
Mark is a remarkable potter. He makes beautiful saltglazed pots, you can see them here on Wendy Blackburne's fantastic site. I was really chuffed that they took the time to find me - it's not easy as I'm off the beaten track and particularly tricky as I had the phone unplugged this morning so they couldn't even call me. The workshop's still a chaotic building site, so they didn't see the place at its best, but hopefully they'll come again some time soon when it's finished.
And so on to today's video blog.
I enjoy using the video camera because it's there, in the workshop, so you're there too. I have no computer in the workshop(and will never have one - sanctuary!) so blogs are conventionally composed in the evenings from recollections of the day. The video catches my thoughts while I'm there in the moment - a very different headspace.
This is a bit of film of me decorating one of the harvest jugs I made the other day.
And this is the pot afterwards. It will look completely different when it's fired, the contrast won't be quite as severe and the lines will soften.
Thanks everybody for your comments on the previous posts. I do enjoy them, even if I don't always get time to respond, please forgive me for that - you do make me smile :-)
Time for bed, goodnight all.
Wednesday, 10 February 2010
My first waffling video blog
Here are some pictures of stuff going on. 8lb harvest jugs awaiting decoration...
Saturday, 6 February 2010
This is one of the big jugs I'm working on at the moment. There's still a long way to go with it yet.
A blurred photo of the applied decoration. It takes its inspiration from a decorative technique employed on medieval pottery, whereby small pellets of clay were applied to the surface of the pots - so simple - and from the surrounding countryside, trefoils, roses and vetches in the hedgerow - not many of those about at the moment.
I put handles on the jugs I made earlier in the week. They have scroll handles of course, in keeping with the traditional Devon harvest jugs where the potters, with very basic materials, used this simple device to make such pieces more ostentatious.
Regular visitors to this blog will know that this picture here is my band, The Love Daddies. We've been rocking the hippies of Devon for more than five years. Recently the band seems to have pretty much fizzled out. The guitarist has moved away to North Devon and we haven't got together in ages, plus it's been winter and I've been busy doing the panto etc. etc. etc. It's a shame if that's the end of it, it has been a big part of my life. Who knows, it may still continue to be so, time will tell, we need to get together and talk about it.
I miss playing music, so was pleased at the opportunity last night to get together with a group of friends in my mate Clarkey's recording studio for a good old jam. Clarkey supplied some of the music for Hollyford Harvest, the film that was made at my workshop last year and is a top keyboard player. He also plays pipes in a band called The Maquires. His studio is completely soundproof, so we were able to carry on into the early hours without fear of anybody hearing us. My chum Filthy Phil was on drums. I've been in a band with Phil before, ages ago - a Sex Pistols tribute band no less. Even all those years ago we were too old to pretend to be the people we were supposed to be. We were suitably tuneless though! I have some photos somewhere, I'll try and dig them out, I was Doug Vicious - funny days, all that leather and leopard skin fabric.
Here's my good friend Andy Manson who was kicking out some great licks on the guitar last night. He wasn't playing this amazing creature I must add. This guitar, The Mermaid, is a great example of master craftsmanship - but then that's what you'd expect from a man who makes custom made guitars for Led Zeppelin amongst other great names of the rock world. A few years ago, Andy and his wife Debbie lived at Hollyford and Debbie and I shared the workshop. I don't get to see enough of them nowadays.
Hil's away this weekend at her cousin's fiftieth birthday party up North, so I'm home with the boys - they've got their friends round at the moment so the house is full of teenagers - We live in a tiny cottage, so I'm relegated to the kitchen - I like it that way though, we've always had a house full of kids, it's great to see them growing up.
Tomorrow morning, Marky Mark is coming over and we're off to the workshop to sort out the wood shed in readiness for the firing in March. There's a lot of stuff in there that shouldn't be and a lot of stuff in the kiln shed that needs to go in the wood shed. Inside the workshop's all but sorted, however everything that hasn't yet got a home, has been piled in the kiln shed, so I can't wait to get some order in there tomorrow.
Well that's it for now, I might wander up to the Half Moon for a glass of cider in a minute, or turn in for an early night - can't decide.
Little lambs in a field near the workshop.
Thursday, 4 February 2010
Big fat jugs
Today I got making my favourite thing - 8lb fat jugs. It felt good to be making fat, generous, earthy, country pots with plenty of grit in the clay. I made six, I'll make another six before the firing. They vary in height and proportion - I didn't try to make them all the same as I would have done once upon a time. The first couple were based on a medieval jug that took my fancy on the internet, the rest gradually slipped into North Devon Harvest jug form, rounded and low bellied.
I've started making the big pots during the last couple of days with a couple of jugs that are nearly 2ft tall - one of them's going to take many hours to decorate - I'll post pictures of them later.
My friend Heather's been in and out this week and made a few pots including this splendid pressed dish with a lovely freely trailed rooster on it.
This beautiful woodpecker has been hanging around today. I had a roving tit party of long-tail tits aswell(it's true, that's the collective term, I lie not).
It was great to see Jess yesterday evening. She hasn't had a chance to get up to the workshop in ages and had a whole stack of glazing to do. She's going to start coming along more regularly again which will be good and is going to set up a workshop at home. She'll come to me to learn stuff, then I'll set her homework! Marky Mark came up for our regular Wednesday night session of pottery and rock and roll.
Wednesday, 3 February 2010
A brief post as it's the middle of the night and I've worked a long, long day. I'll post pictures of new things that have been happening in the workshop, later.
I've listed some pots on ebay, so please forgive me if tonight's blog post is more like an advertisement. If you click on the titles under the pots, it'll take you to the relevant page.
Large 'Medieval' jug
Well that's it for now, I need some zzzzz's, goodnight all, have a good Wednesday.